Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Boys Don't Cry - the RPG


I think I may have found a way to use Otherkind dice to talk about oppression, social roles, and such.

It goes like this: the players devise a community, choose a group in that community that is oppressed, and then pick a trait/skill/way of getting things done that is forbidden to that group, but accessible by the dominant population. The oppressed group can certainly act in the manner outlined by the trait on its own group-members, but not on white people/in the presence of white people.

Let's say we devise a Colorado post-industrial town, choose Vietnamese immigrants as our oppressed group, and then decide that it's forbidden for Asian people in this town to be Confrontational - white folks can get up in people's faces whenever they deem it necessary, but the Vietnamese community here has learned to lie low and get what they want and need in other ways.

Next, we make characters: at least one (maybe only one?) player will control a character who is of the oppressed group. Any such protagonists are going to start the game with a 6 in the forbidden trait (high is bad). I have no idea what other traits there might be, but certainly gameplay is going to focus on the forbidden trait, so some designated opposition-player is going to try to maneuver you into situations in which the Forbidden Trait would be the simplest way to approach a problem.

Vietnamese characters in this town are going to avoid being directly confrontational with white folks, but they can confront other Asian characters all they want, provided no white people are present in the conflict (or maybe the scene, altogether?), as how "those people treat one another" is of little consequence if it's not making white folks upset.

Next, we have a Kicker - most people in the oppressed group lie low and don't make trouble, but the protagonist has done so at least once/is in the process of doing so *right now*. Example - you play a Vietnamese family man whose wife was killed in a hit-and-run (car only; not a drive-by or anything), and the local police are really dragging their asses on the case. You stop by the station one day to check on the investigation's progress, and you hit a wall - they're "really tired of you coming by so often; why don't you just let us work?" Annnd .... action!

So, the Forbidden Trait works like this - set your goal for the conflict in which you use this Trait. Then, for each point you have in the Trait, above 1, the whole table works to come up with one complication or escalation of the conflict - not necessarily something directly related to any actions taken *in* the situation so far, but definitely stuff that will change the landscape, so to speak.
Next, you roll d6's equal to your rating in it (it starts at 6, for oppressed-group-protagonists). For each 4-6 you get, you can make one thing (your goal, or a complication) go your way. Naturally, it's going to really suck having lots of dice to start, but I'm thinking that there's going to be a lot of push-back when you first start overtly resisting oppression. I haven't worked out a "clouds and dice" idea for how you can "buy down" the Forbidden Trait's rating (which means there's less fallout when you use it), but that's something to work on.

p.s. I think the number of protagonists is going to be fairly low, and having only one is going to be totally okay, as it means you can really sink your teeth into one person's take on the situation (kind of a one-player-and-many-gm's scenario).

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